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Credit processing is key for both online and traditional business

Today, there are more people who are either thinking about starting an online business or have already taken positive steps to do so. There may be many reasons, to do so, including a firm belief in a product or service, or a desire for financial independence.

No matter the product or service, an online business gives the owner control and access to lots of shoppers. A person who owns a traditional store is limited in the number of shoppers who visit the store. Here are some of the other common reasons why more people are starting online businesses.

Most traditional stores have a specific number of hours that they are open. However, an online business never closes, making it possible for the owner to make a sale even while he or she is asleep. In the online world, this 24 hour a day capability doesn’t take extraordinary effort, it just takes an online presence.

A person who owns an online business has flexibility when it comes to work hours compared to someone who owns a traditional store. While both kinds of owners may have to work late hours or on the weekend to get the job done, the owner of an online business can choose where that work can be done without worrying about taking time out to also oversee a physical store location. Managing contractors or employees may factor into the efforts of an online business owner, but unlike the owner of a traditional store, those contractors and employees can be based anywhere in the world, allowing the online business owner the flexibility to choose the most cost effective option to get the job done.

Someone who owns an online business is able to work anywhere with an Internet connection, including at home or while on holiday. Someone who owns a traditional store may also work at home, but if they are away on holiday, there is no easy way to mind the store from a remote location.

For both online and traditional businesses, one key process that has to be done well is collecting revenue from sales. When it comes to accepting credit cards, a traditional business has to have special equipment installed at every location where a sale may occur. Compare that to online sales, where the buyer provides the special equipment (their computer and browser).

In both the online and traditional store, once the sale happens, a credit card processor takes over the job of verifying the transaction and paying the business. The bottom line is no matter what type of business one has, it is important to have a reliable and secure payment process in place.

Written by Charge.com Payment Solutions, Inc., a trusted provider of credit card processing solutions for businesses. To equip your business with small business credit card processing, go to the company website to get started.

Considerations when using a prepaid card

If you want to have the convenience of a credit card, but you can’t qualify for a regular credit card, one option is a prepaid card, sometimes known as a prepaid debit card or a stored value card. The concept is the same. It looks like a credit card, and you can use it up to some limit. Like an ATM card, you can use up to a specific amount. Depending on your bank, you may also have the ability to go over the limit on an ATM card, and maybe pay some overdraft fees. However, with a prepaid card, once you reach the limit, you can’t spend any more.

You can can get a prepaid card that looks just like a credit card, including having a Visa or MasterCard logo. They may look like credit cards, but there are a few things about them that are different, and that my make them attractive or unattractive depending on your situation.

Key things to know about prepaid cards

Whether you will want to use a prepaid card will depend on your situation. Before you use one, here are a few things to consider:

  • No bills to deal with later since you are using money you already have.
  • You don’t need a bank account to get one.
  • Your credit history doesn’t matter, you just need to have cash.
  • There is usually a fee to activate the card or to add money to it.
  • You can use it instead of cash.
  • If it is lost or stolen, it likely can’t be canceled.
  • They are accepted at most places that accept credit cards.
  • You have to keep track of how much is left on the card.

One ideal use of this kind of financial instrument is as a reloadable credit card for students, especially if the student doesn’t have experience dealing with credit cards or ATM cards, or maybe has done so in the past but has shown poor decision making.

For this kind of student, especially someone like a college freshman who is spending time away from home for the first time, a prepaid card can give a young person the convenience of a credit card with responsibility of keeping track of finances, while limiting the financial damage if they exercise poor judgment and self control.

Business cards and stationery products are cheaper online

Previous posts on this site discussed how various online tools such as virtual databases and podcasts can be an important component of any business or project. The key advantages are often lower costs compared to how such tasks were accomplished before the widespread adoption of the Internet, and the flexibility that the web-based processes offer.

While these advantages are obvious for things that were first created online, for example tools like Twitter, the advantages exist for decidedly low tech products business cards. In spite of the wealth of online methods for connecting with potential clients, customers, or partners, including very popular social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, success in business still often hinges on personal relationships. When meeting face-to-face, it may be second nature to exchange emails or phone numbers, but it always helps to back that up with something tangible like a business card.

No online description in the world can substitute for the feedback you get when you look at a new stack of your business cards for the first time. You often know, without having to put it into words, whether those cards will work for you. The logical conclusion is that the average person may have to try several different designs from different sources before settling on one that will work.

If you are planning to make several attempts at finding the right card, you should be systematic in your search for the best quality and the best value. It is easy to find low cost business cards online, and with a little bit of effort on a search engine it is easy to find where to find the cheapest business cards on the web. However, it isn’t so easy to find what business cards will work for you.

Once do find that perfect combination of price and quality, by all means keep using that company. If the price is low enough, get two or three different designs and use them all.

Tips on using a credit card abroad

In days gone by, taking a holiday overseas meant changing dollars for another currency or ordering a stack of travelers’ checks to cash in while on vacation.

However, consumers are increasingly opting to use credit cards while abroad to save the hassle of having to preorder currency, as well as to avoid the greater risks involved with loss or theft.

For those who opt to use a credit card while on vacation, it is advisable to take a couple of precautionary steps before leaving the US.

First, contact your credit card provider and let them know you will be going to a different country and plan on using your card. There have been instances of accounts being frozen after they were flagged up as possibly fraudulent due to transactions outside the US.

Second, ensure that you have your lender’s contact details, including the hotline for lost or stolen cards, and that you have written your card number and expiration date down. While this isn’t essential, it may help save time when you are in the midst of a crisis.

Credit cards are undoubtedly a very convenient way to pay for items when traveling overseas, but there are some downsides that need to be taken into consideration before using your plastic.

At home in the US, cardholders may be used to paying for purchases on plastic without any additional charges unless the retailer specifies otherwise, but while overseas, there are a number of different charges that can make any transaction more expensive than its cash equivalent.

Interest rates are often hiked up for any overseas credit card use and some firms can charge as much as 2% more in interest, just for the privilege of using the card abroad. This may not seem that much, but this is in addition to the other charges that firms may levy.

Two of the biggest names in credit cards, Visa and MasterCard, both add an additional handling charge onto any international purchases. This is usually in the region of 1% and is on top of the interest rate applicable to the account.

Withdrawing cash from a credit card is seldom a good idea and a policy best reserved for absolute emergencies, as it tends to attract a higher rate of interest or charges from the credit card firm.

However, using your flexible friend to get money from a foreign ATM is even more expensive than back home.

Cardholders can be hit with two sets of ATM fees – one lot from the ATM provider, which is usually in the region of $1 to $3 per withdrawal – and the other from the credit card firm who tend to charge around $2 to $7 for a cash advance from an overseas ATM.

It is not unusual to find the total charges from a foreign ATM amounting to between $5-10 per withdrawal – a hefty sum that soon adds up.

If all of the above weren’t weighty enough, cardholders are often penalized with poor exchange rates.

When an item in a foreign currency is purchased with a credit card, the currency must be converted back into dollars. The exchange rates applied to credit card transactions are notoriously low and usually among the worst conversion rates on the market.

Although credit cards are a convenient choice when going abroad and worth considering for not only their ease of use, but security, it is essential that the additional charges and interest are added onto the holiday budget to prevent a nasty shock when the bill arrives as the suntan is fading.